Posted in theology

The importance of a Bible teacher’s transparency: it relates to accountability

By Elizabeth Prata

On June 18, I and 5 other ladies signed an Open Letter to Beth Moore and it was published on several of our platforms. It asked Moore 5 plain questions regarding her stance on homosexuality, and noted that her associations and partnerships with several high-profile gay-affirming and openly homosexual Christians were causing confusion between her life and whatever doctrine she held. (1 Timothy 4:16). So we asked the questions about her doctrine.

The issues covered in this essay are a Bible teacher’s accessibility, accountability, and transparency.

After two weeks of controversy, stirred because Mrs Moore refused to directly acknowledge the letter or answer the questions, (timeline here), then finally publishing a ‘kind of-sort of’ explanation, Beth Moore announced she was taking time off from Twitter.

One of the charges Moore made against the publishers of the Open Letter was that we did not go through “the right channels.” Here is her tweet.

She opens with an insinuation that she knows our hearts, that we don’t really want answers. We do. She closes with another insinuation as to our motivations, that we want public attention and we like barbecuing fellow Christians. We don’t.

In the middle she said that we should contact our church to ask. This makes no sense. I should contact my pastor to ask him what Beth Moore’s stance on homosexuality is?

How would one get in touch with Beth Moore to ask a question or gain clarification on something she has taught? Remember, she does not restrict her teaching to women in her own church, she teaches all people globally. See Lifeway Christian Resources 2019 report for the year 2018 activities:

LifeWay Christian Resources and the Women’s Event and Publishing Team continues to equip and minister to women across the country and beyond with multiple live events and resources for a diversified audience, both to the SBC and other women of faith.

In 2018 the Women’s Event Team celebrated 20 years of Living Proof Live events with Beth Moore and worship led by Travis Cottrell. From October 2017 through September 2018, cities included Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Boone, N.C.; Green Bay, Wis.; San Diego, Calif.; Calgary, Ala., Canada; Columbia, Mo.; Hot Springs, Ark.; Huntsville, Ala.; as well as an Alaskan cruise during the summer.

These events ministered to more than 50,000 women.

The Beth Moore simulcast event was partnered with the live event in Huntsville and included 376 churches and 6,500 individuals representing more than 10 countries.

The year before, Lifeway reported,

In 2017, the team managed 36 events, including 21 enrichment events, two live simulcasts, and 17 leadership training events. The team hosted 11 Living Proof Live events Women across the United States and around the world were reached through annual Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer simulcasts with approximately 150,000 women watching.

That’s a lot of women being influenced by what Beth Moore says and does. Because she has introduced confusion as to whether it is appropriate to ask a public Bible teacher a question, and has caused confusion about how to access a widely-known Bible teacher, I decided we should take a look as to what the Bible says on the issue.

In reading of the Apostles and teachers of the New Testament time, did they answer questions? IS it appropriate to ask the celebrity teachers a question about their teaching? What are the right channels, anyway?

Does your favorite Bible teacher or pastor only pay lip service to transparency? Or are they truly transparent?

In Acts 2:12, the sermon by Peter was a response to questions from the crowd.

Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? … And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:7-8, 12)

Peter replied that they were not drunk as they had supposed, then answered their questions.

The disciples asked Jesus about the temple and the time of the end, asking “when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)

And Jesus answered…” (Matthew 24:4), sparking one of the longest discourses in the New Testament.

Nicodemus sought Jesus at night, presumably when the day was done and Jesus was eating or resting. Yet Jesus was available to him, and gave some of the most important answers in the entire New Testament about being born again-

Jesus answered, (John 3:5)
Jesus answered and said to him, (John 3:10)

Paul’s 1 Corinthians letter responds to issues and questions which the congregation at Corinth had sent him in writing. Paul answered in writing. (1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:1; 7:1).

Acts 17 begins with recounting how Paul’s entire life was given to traveling and teaching and answering questions. Here is from Acts 17:1-3, Paul at Thessalonica,

Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

I underlined reasoned with them because in the Greek that word reasoned is, dia lego. If that sounds like our English word dialog, it’s because it is.

Strong’s #1256 /dialégomai (“getting a conclusion across”) occurs 13 times in the NT, usually of believers exercising “dialectical reasoning.” This is the process of giving and receiving information with someone to reach deeper understanding – a “going back-and-forth” of thoughts and ideas so people can better know the Lord (His word, will). Doing this is perhaps the most telling characteristic of the growing Christian!

In other words, asking and answering.

Is your favorite Bible teacher partially transparent, only allowing you to see what he or she wants you to see?

In John 8:2 we read-

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

In other words, answering questions. Responding to pupil queries is part of teaching.

I understand that when a person gets to a certain level of fame, accessibility might become difficult. Or not. Paul Washer is famous too, and spans the globe teaching and preaching, just as Beth Moore does.

Yet when he preached at The Master’s University, he remained in the auditorium for a lengthy period afterward. He answered every single question asked of him to each and every student that approached. The line was long, he needed to return to the Shepherds Conference where he had been engaged to preach, yet he did not look at his watch or become impatient. He made himself available to students who wanted to engage with him, one-on-one. He is a true servant. This man pours himself out like a drink offering on behalf of the body and for Christ.

We know that the numbers show that Beth Moore has a huge impact on a huge number of women. The question is, how would one approach her to ask a question about something she has taught?

Moore’s Living Proof Ministry has an official Facebook page, but it is managed by someone other than Moore. Moore does not have a personal FB page. I have not found an Instagram page for Beth Moore. At her Ministry Contact Page it is shown where you can postal mail Moore or you can call. When you call, you don’t get Beth Moore on the phone, but a secretary. See below.

She closed comments to her essay ‘Why I deleted half the chapter on homosexuality from the Kindle version’. She withdrew from Twitter, the only remaining source of direct engagement any of the public actually had with her.

She is inaccessible by preference and by design.

In 2010 Christianity Today wanted to do a cover story on Moore. One would think that a widely circulated magazine aimed directly at Moore’s demographic would please her, and that she would do everything to get the message out. No.

CT reported that accessing her was extremely difficult. Newsmax reported,

Finding fun facts [About Moore] isn’t easy, at least not in person. Christianity Today (CT) wrote of the difficulty in getting through the Moore phalanx of image guardians to get an interview: “It was not easy to get there.”

CT had to ask several times just to receive a ”yes” to the interview. The reporter stated that she was-

“closely protected by assistants who allow very few media interviews. After several interview requests from CT, her assistants allocated one hour to discuss her latest book and ask a few questions about her personal life. Each question had to be submitted and approved beforehand, I was told, or Moore would not do the interview. Follow-up interview requests were declined. I was permitted to see the ground level of her ministry, where workers package and ship study materials. But Moore’s third-floor office, where she writes in the company of her dog, was off limits.” (Christianity Today)

As one man on Twitter wittily stated, “I can tweet the president of the United States of America, directly, but I have to go through “proper channels” to get to @BethMooreLPM?”

Accessibility is to one’s discretion. Availability might become limited. But transparency should never, ever be an issue with a person handling the word of God.

There is a difference in being wise and mindful of one’s time in order to shepherd it to the fullest, and being elusive and evasive.

Be wary of teachers that reject open scrutiny or are not transparent in their theology or their thinking in how they got there. It means they reject accountability. Apostle Paul welcomed scrutiny and was happy to be held accountable (Acts 17:11). Paul Washer and John MacArthur, as busy as they are, both make time for students and answer questions. Dr. MacArthur frequently holds a Q&A at the pulpit and welcomes people’s questions.

Bible teachers, accountable for accurately speaking truth to students, must also understand God’s desire for them to love students as well seen in how they speak about them to others. How easy it can be to talk negatively about certain students to fellow teachers, a spouse, friend, or to whomever you might unload frustrations. God says, “this should not be.” Source

True transparency. Can you see into the Bible teacher’s or the Pastor’s life?
Can you see how they arrived at their conclusions?

The more transparent a teacher is, the more we can assess their doctrine and their life. (1 Timothy 4:16). I’m not taking about opening up every single private thing you ever did, but general transparency for any public teaching figure, local or global, means seeking to serve from a humble position and earnestly answering or helping those whom you teach (locally or globally).